Cultures of human epidermal keratinocytes obtained from adult epidermis were initiated using irradiated BALB/3T3 cells as feeder layers. At different stages of confluence of the epidermal islands, feeder cells were removed and the extracellular matrix proteins of both pure component cells and cocultures were analyzed biochemically and by immunochemical methods and compared to those of skin fibroblasts of the same donors. The keratinocytes synthesized and secreted fibronectin and small amounts of laminin and type IV collagen. In addition, a nondisulfide-linked collagenous polypeptide (Mr = 120,000) was synthesized by the keratinocytes and was confined to the cell layers. Collagenous polypeptides with Mr = 120,000 were also synthesized by organ cultures of epidermal tissue and were detected in its acid or detergent extracts but again no secretion to culture medium was found. The Mr = 120,000 collagen had biochemical and immunological properties distinct from those of types I-V collagens. In immunofluorescence of keratinocyte cultures, fibronectin staining was prominent in the lining marginal cells of the expanding periphery of the epidermal cell islands but was not detected in the terminally differentiating cells in the upper layers of stratified colonies. Very little type IV collagen was found deposited in pericellular matrix form by the keratinocytes. In contrast, the mouse 3T3 feeder cells were found to produce both type IV collagen and laminin in addition to the previously identified connective tissue glycoproteins of fibroblasts, interstitial procollagens, and fibronectin. Basement membrane collagen of the 3T3 cells was found deposited as apparently unprocessed procollagen alpha 1(IV) and alpha 2(IV) chains. The production in culture conditions of basal lamina glycoproteins by the fibroblastic feeder cells may promote the attachment and growth of the cocultured keratinocytes.

This content is only available as a PDF.